Apple Macintosh before System 7

Hardware releases ~ Software releases

Macintosh 128K and 512K ~ manuals ~ software bundles

Macintosh Plus and 512Ke ~ manuals ~ software bundles

Macintosh 512K/800 ~ Macintosh ED

Apple OEM upgrades

Disk images ~ Working with older disk images

The develop CD and its spawn

As a rule, I have used the original disks and reference materials in constructing this chronology. I have been especially careful when reviewing the information presented in Apple Knowledge Base article 15582, Macintosh: System Software Version History. This article contains major errors:

Understandably, this article has been widely used as a source of (mis)information on the Internet, including Wikipedia. Beware!

Sites with information about various aspects of early Macs include Low End Mac, System 6 Heaven, Jag's House, Mac Daniel, Resurrecting MFS Macintosh Floppies, Mac 128 Update, The Mac 512, Mac SE Support, Full of Mac SE/30, Mainly Neat Stuff, The Mothership, The Vintage Mac Museum (Japan), Attached, GUIdebook. An amazing set of disks from the now-defunct Boston Computer Society is available from Applefritter.

Discussions include Vintage Macs, System 6, and 68k Macintosh Liberation Army. Answers to frequently asked questions are available here and here. Classic Mac Tech Info is available in a PDF document here.

First-hand history is available at Folklore and Making the Macintosh. There are six old articles from BYTE available online: Macintosh product description and Macintosh Design Team interview (February 1984), Macintosh review and Macintosh's Other Designers interview (August 1984), Macintosh Plus product description (June 1986), Macintosh at 10 (February 1994).

Mini vMac is an excellent Macintosh Plus, SE, and 128K emulator that runs on Mac OS X and earlier, as well as Linux and Windows. Requires the appropriate ROM.

Macintosh hardware releases

Table of hardware releases before System 7 (May 1991)

Date Name Model # Tech Specs Original System file
01/84 Macintosh (128K) M0001
112162 System 1.0†
09/84 Macintosh 512K M0001W
112163 System 1.1‡
01/86 Macintosh Plus M0001A
112165 System 3.0
03/86 Macintosh 512K/800 M0001D n/a System 3.0
04/86 Macintosh 512Ke M0001E 112166 System 3.0
03/87 Macintosh SE M5010
112167 System 4.0
03/87 Macintosh II M5000 112168 System 4.0
09/88 Macintosh IIx M5840 112169 System 6.0.1
01/89 Macintosh SE/30 M5119 112170 System 6.0.3
03/89 Macintosh IIcx M5650 112171 System 6.0.3
09/89 Macintosh IIci M5780 112173 System 6.0.4
09/89 Macintosh Portable M5120 112174 System 6.0.4
03/90 Macintosh IIfx M5525 112175 System 6.0.5
10/90 Macintosh Classic M0420 112176 System 6.0.7
10/90 Macintosh IIsi M0360 112177 System 6.0.7
10/90 Macintosh LC M0350 112178 System 6.0.7

* "P" after the model number indicates a 220-240V power supply (Europe, Asia, Australia), as opposed to a 110-120V power supply (North America, Japan).
** M5011 was used for Macintosh SE machines configured with internal hard drives. This would later include the SE FDHD (SuperDrive), which replaced the SE in August 1989.
† Apple's recommended System file is version 2.0, with 3.2 as the maximum.
‡ Apple's recommended System file is version 3.2 (or 3.3 as an AppleShare client), with 4.1 as the maximum.

Printers: ImageWriter, LaserWriter, ImageWriter II, LaserWriter Plus, ImageWriter LQ, LaserWriter IISC, LaserWriter IINT, LaserWriter IINTX, Personal LaserWriter SC, Personal LaserWriter NT, StyleWriter, Personal LaserWriter LS.

Monitors: High-Resolution RGB Monitor, High-Resolution Monochrome Monitor, Two-Page Monochrome Display, Macintosh Portrait Display, Macintosh 12-inch RGB Display, Macintosh 12-inch Monochrome Display.

Macintosh software releases

Table of software releases before System 7 (May 1991)

Date Title System Finder MultiFinder
01/84 Mac Software 1.0 1.0 N/A
05/84 Mac Software 1.1 1.1g N/A
04/85 Mac Software 2.0 4.1 N/A
09/85 Mac Software 2.1 5.0 N/A
01/86 Mac Software 3.0 5.1 N/A
02/86 Mac Software 3.1 5.2 N/A
06/86 Mac Software 3.2 5.3 N/A
01/87 Macintosh System Software* 4.0 5.4† N/A
04/87 Macintosh System Software* 4.1 5.5† N/A
10/87 Macintosh System Software 5.0 4.2 6.0 1.0
11/87 Macintosh System Software 5.1 4.3 6.0 1.0
04/88 Macintosh System Software 6.0 6.0 6.1‡ 6.0
08/88 Macintosh System Software 6.0.1 6.0.1 6.1 6.0.1
09/88 Macintosh System Software 6.0.2 6.0.2 6.1 6.0.1
12/88 Macintosh System Software 6.0.3 6.0.3 6.1 6.0.3
09/89 Macintosh System Software 6.0.4 6.0.4 6.1.4 6.0.4
03/90 Macintosh System Software 6.0.5 6.0.5 6.1.5 6.0.5
10/90 Macintosh System Software 6.0.7 6.0.7 6.1.7 6.0.7
04/91 Macintosh System Software 6.0.8 6.0.8 6.1.8 6.0.8

* The earliest references to "Macintosh System Software" are in the Read Me documents on the System 4.0 Finder 5.4 and System 4.1 Finder 5.5 disks.
† System 3.3 (for the Macintosh 512K) was distributed on the Work Station Installer disk for versions 1.0 (with Finder 5.4) and 1.1 (with Finder 5.5) of the AppleShare file server.
‡ System 3.4 (for the Macintosh 512Ke) was distributed with AppleShare version 2.0 (with Finder 6.1).


Throughout 1987, Apple considered System file 3.2 (or 3.3 as an AppleShare client) to be the maximum for machines with 512K memory. By early 1988, however, this recommendation had been changed to System file 4.1:

From "A History of Macintosh System Software," Appendix A in Macintosh System Software User's Guide Version 6.0 (1988).

Macintosh 128K and 512K hardware

The following information reflects the current state of my knowledge of Macintosh 128K [M0001 and M0001P] and 512K [M0001W and M0001WP] hardware. It may not be complete, but it is accurate, based on personal experience and detailed reports from others, along with conclusions gleaned from the M0001 Registry.

There were three types of cases:

  1. Early M0001 cases that read "Macintosh" on the back.
  2. Later M0001 cases that read "Macintosh 128K" on the back. These are somewhat rare.
  3. M0001W cases that read "Macintosh 512K" on the back.

There were three models of logic boards:

  1. [820-0086-C] © 1983, 128K (630-0101) only.
  2. [820-0086-F] © 1983-84, could be configured as either 128K (630-0101) or 512K (630-0118) boards.
  3. [820-0141-A] © 1983-84, could be configured as either 128K (630-0101) or 512K (630-0118) boards.

There were two models of 128K/512K analog boards (630-0102):

  1. [820-0082-B] © 1983, had a metal shield that ran along the top at BB1. Apple later removed the shield to increase convective cooling.
  2. [820-0082-C] © 1983-84, had neither the shield nor BB1.

There were two basic types of disk drives:

  1. Early Sony model OA-D34V.
  2. Later Sony models OA-D34V-02 or OA-D34V-22. These models had a new insert/eject mechanism.

There were two series of external disk drives (model M0130):

  1. Serial number started with D, made in USA.* The earliest of these contained Sony OA-D34V drives. Later they contained OA-D34V-02/22 drives.
  2. Serial number started with Y, made in Japan.* These contained Sony OA-D34V-02/22 drives.

* There is a difference between the two in the coloration of the plastic case. The plastic used for the D drives is the same as that used for early Macintosh machines. The plastic used for the Y drives is slightly different and does not yellow, at least not nearly as much.

Macintosh 128K and 512K manuals

Macintosh owner's guide:

MacWrite manual:

MacPaint manual:

Other items:

Macintosh 128K and 512K software bundles

The first Macintosh 128K machines came with a plastic Macintosh box that included:

MacWrite and MacPaint came in a separate box that included:

In May 1984, the software bundle was updated and reorganized for System 1.1 Finder 1.1g. Font Mover and the additional fonts were moved to the System Disk in order to create more space on the MacWrite MacPaint disk and a new MacPaint disk was added. The two audio tapes remained the same, and MacWrite MacPaint still came in a separate box:

In September 1984, with the introduction of the Macintosh 512K, the bundle was changed so that all the components would fit inside the plastic Macintosh box:

* There is absolutely no difference in content between the 690-5003B, 690-5003-C, and 690-5003-D disks. The different part numbers simply reflect changes in the packaging.

In June 1985, the software bundle was updated for System 2.0 Finder 4.1. The training disks and audio tape remained the same:

Macintosh Plus and 512Ke hardware

Macintosh Plus

All original Macintosh Plus [M0001A and M0001AP] machines had the words "Macintosh Plus" on the front and came with the M0110A extended keyboard. There were three generations:

  1. "Beige" Macintosh Plus machines read "Macintosh Plus 1 Mb" on the back, with no copyright date. Beige was also the color of the Macintosh 128K and 512K, as well as the 512Ke.
  2. In 1987, Apple changed the label on the back to read "Macintosh Plus 1 Mb" with a 1987 copyright date. The case color was changed to "platinum" to match the color of the new Macintosh II and SE machines. The owner's guide was redesigned and revised (see below).
  3. In 1988, Apple changed the label on the back to read "Macintosh Plus" with a 1988 copyright date. The owner's guide was redesigned and revised again (see below).

The Macintosh Plus ROMs were revised twice. The second revision coincided with the release of the platinum machines in 1987. See:

Macintosh 512Ke

There were two generations of Macintosh 512Ke [M0001E] machines:

  1. Beige machines produced in 1986 have a label on the back with no copyright date. They came with the M0110 standard keyboard and contained first-revision Macintosh Plus ROMs.
  2. Platinum machines have a 1987 copyright date on the label. They came with the M0110A extended keyboard and contained second-revision Macintosh Plus ROMs.

Note: I have never seen a M0001E with a 220-240V power supply.

Macintosh 512K/800

The Macintosh 512K/800 [M0001D] was a 512K upgraded with an 800K disk drive and (unlike the 512Ke at the time) the M0110A extended keyboard. Like the 512Ke, the 512K/800 was also produced in a second-generation "platinum" edition in 1987.

Note: I have never seen a M0001D with a 110-120V power supply.

Macintosh ED

The Macintosh ED [M0001ED] was a 512K/800 [M0001D] packaged for sale through educational institutions. There appear to be four editions of these machines:

  1. Beige with M0001ED model number. [Serial numbers begin with F, for Fremont, California]
  2. Platinum with M0001ED model number. [F]
  3. Beige with "Macintosh ED" printed on the front and M0001D model number on the back. [Serial numbers begin with C, for Cork, Ireland.]
  4. Platinum with "Macintosh ED" printed on the front and M0001D model number on the back. [C]

Note: I have never seen a M0001ED with a 110-120V power supply.

Macintosh Plus ED

The Macintosh Plus ED was a platinum Macintosh Plus with "Macintosh Plus ED" printed on the front and a standard 220-240V M0001AP model number on the back.

Macintosh Plus and 512Ke manuals

Macintosh Plus

Changes in the design of the Macintosh Plus owner's guide (and packaging) parallel the changes in the hardware.

First edition:

Second edition:

Third edition:

Macintosh 512Ke

Sales of the Macintosh 512Ke continued until September 1987. As far as I know, the content and design of the owner's guide was never changed. However, the design of the outer box was changed in early 1987. So it is possible that changes were made inside the box as well.

Macintosh Plus and 512Ke software bundles

Before April 1988, all Macintosh Plus and 512Ke software bundles included a demo disk for MacDraw, MacWrite, MacProject, MacPaint.

Macintosh Plus

In January 1986, the Macintosh Plus software bundle featured System 3.0 Finder 5.1:

In June 1986, the System Tools disk was updated for System 3.2 Finder 5.3:

In January 1987, the software bundle was updated for System 4.0 Finder 5.4:

In April 1987, the software bundle was updated for System 4.1 Finder 5.5:

In June 1987, the System Tools and Utilities disks were revised:

In August 1987, the Utilities disk was revised a second time, on two disks:

In October 1987, the software bundle was updated for Macintosh System Software 5.0, on four disks: System Tools 1, System Tools 2 (Printers), Utilities 1, Utilities 2.

In April 1988, the software bundle was updated for Macintosh System Software 6.0, on four disks: System Tools, Printing Tools, Utilities 1, Utilities 2. The training disk was updated and HyperCard was added to the box:

Macintosh 512Ke

The Macintosh 512Ke was introduced in March 1986. It came with the Macintosh Plus System Tools disk:

In June 1986, the System Tools disk was updated for System 3.2 Finder 5.3 and the Macintosh 512Ke:

Sales of the Macintosh 512Ke continued until September 1987, but evidently the software bundle did not change after June 1986.

Apple OEM upgrades

Apple's OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) upgrades:

* As far as I know, this is the only printed Apple manual that tells you how to initialize single-sided 400K disks in the HFS format. Requires Finder 5.x or 6.x: "Holding down the Option key while you click One-Sided (or if the disk is in a 400K disk drive, holding the Option key down while you press the Return key after you've named it) installs the hierarchical file system on just one side of the disk. Use disks initialized this way with updated startup disks only." In other words, they can't be used as startup disks. Or else!

Eric Rasmussen